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The importance of student organizations and extracurricular involvement

September 27, 2011

The Student ReviewOver the past week, there have been a lot of posts reminiscing over the independent newspaper at BYU, the Student Review. The reason is because now The Student Review is being revived, so many of the original participants (who have for the most part become influential names in Mormon blogging one way or another today) especially have motivation to evaluate and remember what they got out of the experience.

I’ve appreciated reading the articles and listening to the Mormon Matters podcast regarding the SR, because it seems that these guys were really able to do something to “stick it to the man” at BYU (and by “do something,” I mean that constructively and positively.) And, I really find it intriguing that now, these are some of the more noted writers in the Mormon blogging community today. So, I can’t help but feel as if in several years, the SR writers who have revived the project will also be people to watch.

But even more, it seemed that through the SR, the various writers were really able to grow in personal capacities. As Matt Workman writes:

As for as the Student Review is concerned, it was my college experience. With about two exceptions, my classes at BYU weren’t worth showing up to.

At Texas A&M, there are two concepts that interact with the sense of tradition here: the idea of the other education and the label of 2-Percenter. When I first came to the school, I didn’t like the “2%er” tradition, because as I saw it, it was narrowly applied and seemed to demonize all but certain personality types. The concept was: at a university like Texas A&M, only 2% of one’s education is from the classroom. The rest is a social, moral, or ethical education that occurs outside of the classroom. Students that participate in the traditions at Texas A&M participate in this “other education,” but those who do not — even if they have great academic performance here — have functionally missed out on 98% of what the university experience is about.

I didn’t like these concepts at first because I saw “the other education” as consisting of little more than Tailgating 101, Yell Practice, and several other opportunities to form what suspiciously looked to be a unified hive mind.

But now…I can see that the other education was always meant to be far more expansive.

…Reading articles about the Student Review made me a bit envious that I didn’t have the experience of being on an independent, alternative student newspaper staff (especially since I like to write).  But what I failed to realize was that I have had experiences that have given me similar sentiments as Matt.

I wouldn’t say that “with about two exceptions, my classes at Texas A&M weren’t worth showing up to” (especially because I am a strong believer that classes’ worth can be increased or decreased based on what the student puts into them), but I think I would phrase things now in the Texas A&M-specific language of education percentages: what I’ve learned in the classroom probably only total 2% of what all I’ve learned in university. And that’s not because I’m taking business classes or whatever.

Rather, it’s because I do have an extracurricular involvement that is “my college experience.” It’s not an independent student newsletter. It’s the fencing club and my role as an officer.

Whereas I hashed out the theories about delegation, about managerial styles, about managing and raising funds, about intra-organization and inter-organization communication, about problem-solving, etc., in management and behavioral science classes…I have had to work these out for myself and with others as an officer in the fencing club. Whereas I’ve talked about professional development in many of my classes, I have actually proceeded to develop professionally because of my involvement with the club.

The Other Education, then isn’t just about being social and making friends (read: building your network). It’s about professional development. The 2-percenter pejorative, then, isn’t simply a statement about one’s stunted social development, but about one’s student professional development.

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  1. So true. I learned more at USU through my involvement with SHAFT than I did in any class.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. The Liberal Arts Pedagogy vs. the “Other Education” of Texas A&M « Irresistible (Dis)Grace
  2. Religions and Extracurricular Activities | Wheat and Tares

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